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Milton Bryan: Chapel over the pond
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel around 1875
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on the village pond around 1900

At Milton Bryan, near Woburn, by the later 19th century the local Methodists were holding their meetings in a local cottage, but their ultimate aim was to have a purpose built chapel. However, no one would allow them a site, and when one farmer, who had bitterly opposed their plans, later died from a wasp sting, it was considered by many to have been an act of Divine retribution. Allegedly, the Duke of Bedford then granted the use of the village pond (which was much larger than at present) but since the stipulation was apparently that the chapel had to be erected between sunrise and sunset, the sections of the building were made at Dunstable and then, supposedly in the middle of the night, transported to Milton Bryan to be bolted together. Supported on stilts above the pond, the chapel became known in the early days as the Tabernacle, and for some 120 years would serve as an unusual venue for weekly worship. Initially an annual quit rent of 2s 6d was payable to the lord of the manor, but in time the Duke of Bedford relinquished this ‘peppercorn’ amount, and sold the right to the trustees. In such a moisture laden location it was of little surprise that by the late 1970s the chapel had begun to deteriorate, and consequently the slated roof and much of the internal furnishing had to be removed. Then damp set into the woodwork, and during the early weeks of 1981 the building was demolished. The timbers were piled up at the side of the pond, but whilst no trace of the chapel now remains a plaque, erected in the year 2000, still recalls this unique aspect of the village past.